OLYMPIA — State Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, has faced frustration and protest as the first Republican to serve his rural Southwest Washington district in decades. But the Aberdeen lawmaker isn’t dodging the people he represents.
Walsh plans to answer to them during a telephone town hall scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, March 20. People can listen in on the call and ask questions.
The announcement for the hour-long talk comes as lawmakers from other parts of the country are receiving criticism for sidestepping conversations with their constituents.
Walsh was elected to his first term serving Washington’s 19th Legislative District in the very close November 2016 General Election. He’s only the second Republican in the past 70 years to represent the district, which includes all of Pacific and Wahkiakum counties, as well as pieces of Grays Harbor, Lewis and Cowlitz counties.
He is two-thirds of the way through his first legislative session. His first bill sailed unanimously through the House and onto the Senate.
Walsh has also worked on some failed legislation, including a contentious set of abortion restrictions. Dozens of protesters marched with bullhorns and signs made from coat hangers outside his Aberdeen home in January.
“Everybody is getting used to a new dynamic in this part of the state,” Walsh said on March 13. “We used to be reliably blue and now we’re more purple.”
He stresses his focus on jobs and schools — not social issues. The libertarian-leaning former state GOP vice chairman has found allies across the aisle, working on with District 19 Democrats Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, and Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview.
“Like any freshman, it takes a while to get their legs under them but he’s doing well,” Blake, a 14-year veteran lawmaker, said.
He said it hasn’t been difficult to find common ground with Walsh on issues that most affect the district. They’ve worked together to try to ease regulations to give logging, farming and fishing a boost to bring back jobs.
“It’s a district of working folks,” Blake said. “They’re common-sense people who are looking for representatives who will work for the district.”
Walsh said the district’s delegation also benefits from being privy to the strategies of both political parties and sharing inside information from their respective caucuses.
To listen to Walsh’s town hall on Monday evening, call (360) 682-3579. Press the star key to ask questions.
Walsh is also taking questions at (360) 786-7806 or firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of the Monday evening meeting. Walsh said he plans to do an in-person town hall after the legislative session ends on April 23.